OXFAM TAKES AIM AT NEW FORESTS COMPANY BUT FOR WHAT REASONS


There is intense speculation over the real reasons why British charity organization turned political activist OXFAM let fly against the New Forests Company in a report published recently. It is alleged in the report that the New Forests Company was morally and ethically guilty over evictions carried out on some 20.000 hectares of land concessional to them for re-forestation and the establishment of commercial timber plantations by the National Forest Authority. The report cites eye witness testimonies of violent evictions of what can only be described as squatters by the NFA and other government agencies following the signing of respective contracts in 2005. It is understood from a source close to the New Forests Company in Uganda that the report contradicts what NFS own staff and observers saw at the time and decried OXFAMs ambush tactics of publishing a report without having the courtesy of giving NFS the chance to comment on such serious allegations. Another source within Ugandas conservation fraternity acquainted with the re-forestation programmes across the country also praised the way the New Forest Company works in Uganda and speculated there might be other reasons for OXFAM to publish such a report. They have known issues with the Ugandan government and might be using a British company to raise profile back home in the UK. They might also have been used themselves by Uganda opposition who are known to spread a lot of unsubstantiated rumours and many foreign NGOs have fallen for such tricks. If so they have failed to uphold investigative standards and only have themselves to blame when the truth eventually comes out.

The New Forests Company only recently signed a far reaching agreement with the Rwandan government to take over responsibility for the Nyungwe Forest National Parks buffer zone in a deal which received wide publicity and is expected to substantially shore up forest cover in areas immediately outside the park in a mixed approach of planting both commercial timber for harvesting but also indigenous hard wood trees enhancing the biodiversity in areas thought to be critical for the forest inside the park.

Compiled by Jackie
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